Shaylee Vander Velden grew up thinking she would become a teacher. She would play school with her friends and dolls. “Teaching has always been a part of me,” Vander Velden says.
When Vender velden was in high school she had a free period during last class time of the day. “I would go into a sixth grade class to help the teacher by tutoring the students who needed extra help,” she says, “Some with one-on-one help with math and reading studies.”
Vander Velden grew up in the Cedar Rapids/Marion area and graduated from Linn-Mar High School in 1996. She enrolled at Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids with the intent to earn a degree in teaching and business administration. “During my freshman year I changed my mind and my major,” she says. “I found a program called SIFE (Students in free enterprise) and decided that would be more to my liking.” She graduated Mt. Mercy in 2000 and moved with her husband to the Chicago area where both found their future careers.
They moved back to Iowa where they had family and settled in Grimes. They both are fortunate to be able to work from home and they have the flexibility to be home with their two sons, ages six and three.
Vander Velden currently is assistant to the vice president of sales for a company that manufactures food products. “I am still in the education realm, because as such I must train the brokers who help sell our products to the stores,” she says, “I not only train them in the use of our systems, but I do problem solving with them on occasion over the phone. My background with teaching helps me in this area. I need to have a lot of patience.”
In her other life, VAnderVelden teaches kindergarten at her church on Wednesday nights. “I have about 12 students,” she says, “I really enjoy seeing the kids excitement and energy and willingness to learn.” Part of the class time is spent with singing and crafts, followed by the lessons. “The kids are so smart,” she says, “they like to tell stories about things that have happened to them, both good and bad. That gives me the opportunity to help them learn how to deal with some of their problems. We talk a lot about kindness and love.”
Vander Velden says they also talk a lot about helping other people. “One time I had them take off all their shoes and put them in the center of the room, and then asked them how they would feel if they didn’t have shoes like some children. We talked about how it feels to help people, like their parents around their homes
Vander Velden helped with vacation Bible school last summer with fifth-graders. “I really enjoyed working with the older kids, too,” she says, “I will probably do that again this year.”